This year's fundraising ride was a little bit less of a whirl-wind than the year before had been. We had a better understanding of what to expect, and were stronger cyclists, so we had a bit more energy to notice what was going on around us. Perhaps because we weren't riding with a group of friends (Hi Kara! Hi Ellen! We really missed riding with you!), we spent more time chatting with strangers at the rest stops.
The twenty five mile ride is a great ride for people who are pretty sporty, but who aren't what you would call actual athletes. There were several groups of friends and families riding in our group. In many cases, these groups are riding BORP-provided vehicles, like hand-cycles or tandem bikes. Tandems are great, because they allow disabled and able-bodied riders to team up. It wasn't until the end of the ride, that I clued into the fact that one of the tandem riders was blind. And that's what's so cool about this ride. You don't think, "Oh wow, lookie there! It's a blind woman on a bike!" You think, "Wow, cool! Those two are riding a bicycle built for two."
One of the tandem teams was a mom, and her son, who was a rather frail thirteen year old, who seemed to have severe cerebral palsy. They were riding a BORP tandem, which had been fitted with special pedals, which would keep his feet from slipping. We bumped into them at rest stops, and exchanged pleasantries, but didn't have a whole lot of contact.
Or so we thought.
At the post-ride lunch, I got to talking with one of the people who had driven the support trucks that followed the riders and helped anyone who got a flat tire or fell or otherwise needed help. He was fascinated by the different machines that people were riding, and I offered him a chance to try out Robb's wheels. We walked out to the parking lot, where I failed to find the trike.
Had a well-meaning volunteer packed our trike away in a BORP van? That wouldn't be a big deal. But if someone had stolen the trike....well, that would be pretty ghastly, because the replacement cost would be pretty astronomical.
I started asking around, and someone remembered seeing the tandem-riding boy sitting on our trike. Hmmm.....odd.....
About this time, the boy's mother appeared. She was pretty distraught, because she couldn't find her son anywhere.
Son last seen sitting on trike.
Son very very very frail, but known for getting into all sorts of ill-advised trouble.
Greg, the supervisor of BORP's cycling program hopped on his bike and went speeding down the winery's long driveway. No sight of the kid. Oh geez.....His mom freaked out. What if he was on the road? Greg sped off, and I went to grab Robb. I can't drive Robb's car, because of the adaptive hand controls, and I wanted him to drive out and look for our wayward young friend. By the time I rounded up Robb, explained the situation to him, and he was driving out in search of the trike-napper, a strange woman rode up on the trike, followed shortly Greg, the wayward son, and his furious mom, all riding in a pickup truck.
It seemed that despite his fragile condition, our young friend was a thirteen year old boy, and he had gotten into some typical thirteen year old boy type mischief. He had stolen the trike, and gone joy-riding out on the roads.
Most everyone in BORP knew this kid, well. As we've written before, BORP participants stay with BORP for years. They knew this kid. They knew his limitations. They knew how potentially dangerous if was for him to be riding down the road by himself.
And despite all this, they were all torn between being scared and angry at him for this foolish stunt, and being a bit awed and proud of him for being such a normal thirteen year old boy. We all shook our heads, and said, "This could only happen at a BORP event."
Robb looked at the computer on his trike after all the commotion had ended and figured that our bike-napper had ridden about a mile and a half, at about four miles an hour, which means that most people could have caught up with him on foot. But who knows? Maybe, next year, he'll do the ride on a BORP trike.